Good morning, All,
We debated whether to call this the ‘startup’ or ‘entrepreneur’ checklist. We opted for ‘entrepreneur’ since, when Web 1.0 began, newly-minted endeavors were not called ‘startups’: they were called ‘companies.’ The idea was, and presumably still is, to build a business. To do what you set out to do, and to finish what you start up – which is to build a viable business. We’ve all seen the 10-slide investor decks. We know what investors are looking for. But what are the points entrepreneurs need to consider? Here are some things to keep in mind for your own internal slide deck/startup checklist:
In the beginning there is The Idea, but that’s just the beginning…
1. Is there a real problem that needs to be addressed?
2. Do you have the right experience to address this problem?
3. Can you afford to do this? Can you afford not to?
4. Is what you are creating truly unique and necessary, or are you reinventing the wheel? What have you done to validate your idea?
5. What are your immediate plans for keeping the lights on? Keeping your day job for the time being? Are you self-funding and can you afford that? Friends and family can help – and can you afford that?
6. Are you the person who can build the product, the one who can get the customers, or the one who can convince the investors? It takes a team: figure out which one you are, then find the people who are much better at the other functions than you are – and don’t forget to let them do their jobs.
7. Who are your competitors and how do you differ? Really? Can you convince an investor or a customer of that?
8. Have you checked in with your customers/beta testers lately? What are their suggestions/opinions? Know your audience. And listen to them.
9. How are you going to reach your market? What if your product is a runaway hit: how will you scale it? What if it isn’t: what’s the Plan B to get to Plan A?
10. What are your major risks/pain points/fears and how do you plan on managing them? Hint: what keeps you up at night?
11. First mover advantage is nice, but how easily can your idea be replicated by a competitor? Do you have a Next Phase/feature that they won’t see coming?
12. If you’re getting no traction with investors/customers/buyers, are you talking to the wrong investors/audience, or does your product need refinement/rethinking?
13. Who are your mentors/subject matter experts/advisors? You do have them, right?
14. Is your product something that will help people to make money/save money/improve their lives so that they will want to spend money? Love and good press will get you just so far…
15. This industry is full of nay-sayers (aren’t they all?). Bad days aside, do you have the passion/fortitude/fire in the belly to keep going, and to keep the company going?
16. Is this something you need to attend to personally, at all times, or is it sustainable, even if you’re off on a beach somewhere? If the answer to the first part is ‘yes,’ you’re self-employed. If the answer to the second part is ‘yes,’ you’re building a company.
17. Is this something you really need to do, that you’ve thoroughly researched and thought out and damn the torpedoes, or has someone close to you suggested that you might be clinically insane and professional counseling might be a good alternative?
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and not every idea is a good one. We would personally never talk anyone out of pursuing his or her dream, but we would suggest that you consider whether or not it’s one that will withstand and hopefully be able to see the light of day. Starting a company is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Many an entrepreneur is fond of quoting Henry Ford as having said that if he’d asked people what they’d wanted, they would have said a faster horse. The truth is, Henry Ford never uttered any such words, although, consummate entrepreneur that he was, he did once say that obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. As always, young Jedis, eye on the prize. And make sure you’re taking the right steps to get there. Onward and forward.
The list of Startup Weekend Upcoming Events
DreamIt Ventures inaugural Austin accelerator program, deadline THIS FRIDAY, October 26th. The details are here: http://bit.ly/OVWQ8y. Demo Day will take place during SXSW. To apply: http://dreamitventures.com/apply/apply-now/ .
The Awesome Foundation wants to give you $1000 for your best idea – almost anywhere in the world. We give micro-grants each month to projects that are inspiring, delightful, and elegant: in a word, Awesome. To apply in NYC: http://bit.ly/NWueRO For more information and the complete list of chapters all over the world: http://www.awesomefoundation.org/
NYU-Poly Incubator Accepting Fall Applications, deadline unknown. At the NYU-Poly Incubator we understand the needs of early-stage startups. We focus on providing our startups with the key resources that they need to be successful. This fall, we are excited to accept a few more startups at our DUMBO location in Brooklyn. Our incubator is looking for energetic and innovative startups that want to be apart of the bigger NYC Tech Community. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/Q85fbI
Fintech Innovation Lab London, deadline November 1st. Program runs 7 January to 22 March. To apply, complete the online application form and upload a two-minute video that describes your technology and how it would help financial services firms. http://bit.ly/P3vm6G
NYC Next Idea, deadline November 9th. NYC Next Idea is back and better than ever for its fourth iteration! With newly expanded eligibility rules that permit a much larger cross-section of US-based teams to participate, this year’s competition promises to bring the best business ideas from all around the globe to NYC for a chance to pitch to seasoned investors and win $35,000 to get their business off the ground. Registration is open now via this link. For more information: http://bit.ly/IIFg3G
NYC SeedStart Enterprise-Focused Accelerator, deadline November 9th. NYC SeedStart: Enterprise is looking for software and web-based teams with technical co-founders launching companies in the enterprise software area. The program will take place in New York City from January to March 2013. Particular areas of interest are SaaS, Real-time Analytics, Security, Cloud Services and Consumer-enabled Enterprise Products. Up to ten teams will be selected to participate, with each company receiving $20,000 in funding in exchange for a 5% equity stake in the business. For more information and to apply: http://www.nycseedstart.com/Or contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
AWS Global Startup Challenge, deadline November 9th. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Global Start-Up Challenge is a way for promising start-ups to get noticed and compete for an opportunity to win some great rewards. This year’s challenge offers prizes such as $100K in combined cash and credits for multiple winners, VC introductions, PR support, and more. If your start-up is built using AWS, we want you to apply!
Meet Tier One Investors: Finalists will be flown to San Francisco where they will meet 1:1 with top VCs
More Winners, More Prizes: This year we will award winners in four categories, and award each of the four winners $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits
Press and Attention for Your Start-Up: Past winners have been covered by top tech news outlets, and AWS offers other free promotion to top teams as part of the contest. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/OwE8ny
NEW “Who Would You Fund” TechStartup Challenge 2012, deadline November 11th. Think your startup has what it takes? Prove it! Submit your startup promotional vidle and you just might win the opportunity to make a live pitch to the ARC Angel Fund. For more information and to enter: https://vidle.me/competition/whowouldyoufund
Vator is bringing its popular evening event and competition back to NYC! Deadline: November 14th. 15% SOS discount code: SOS15. What do the top 10 finalists win? The opportunity to give a three-minute presentation onstage to some of the top investors in the industry, here in NYC on December 5th.
Vator, one of the largest business networks dedicated to high-tech entrepreneurs and investors, is looking to recognize 10 promising startups across technology, including digital media, social media, consumer Internet, software, SaaS, iPhone apps, and mobile.
Who should apply? Entrepreneurs with seed- to early-stage startups that have raised no more than $1.5 million.
What should you submit? Submissions are in the form of a Vator company profile. We encourage video as it gives us a better sense of who’s behind the company. But you don’t need one.
For more information: http://bit.ly/OVVrPl To apply for the competition: http://vator.tv/registration
BlueprintHealth Accelerator, deadline November 19th. The program is geared towards healthcare companies that want an intensive three-month program to help find customers and capital. Selected companies range from two founders with an idea to businesses that have customers, investors and are generating significant revenue. The foundation of the program is a community of over 150 healthcare entrepreneurs, investors and industry executives that are committed to helping you build and grow your business. We have the largest network of mentors with healthcare expertise of any accelerator, which can provide you with warm introductions and the strategic and tactile advice you need. If you are accepted to the accelerator program, you will receive $20,000 in cash, over $50,000 in perks, office space at our SoHo office, and a community that is dedicated to seeing you succeed. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/Q926Y5
ER Accelerator Winter Session, deadline November 30th. ERA one of the top accelerators in the country, if not the world. Get $25k in funding; free office space in the heart of NYC; access to 200+ amazing mentors (http://eranyc.com/mentors/ and yes, Yours Truly happens to be one of them). For more information: http://eranyc.com/ To apply: http://eranyc.com/apply/
Take the HELM, deadline November 30th. The Take the HELM (Hire & Expand in Lower Manhattan) Competition will select up to 20 finalists that best meet the goals of the competition and seek to open an office in Lower Manhattan. Finalists will each receive a $10,000 cash grant, an opportunity to interview with the distinguished Take the HELM Selection Committee, and will participate in two days of exclusive business development programs in Lower Manhattan. Up to four Take the HELM winners will receive an additional $250,000. At least one $250,000 prize will be reserved for startup applicants. For more information and to apply: http://www.takethehelmnyc.com/
THE NEW ENGLAND VENTURE SUMMIT Call for Top Innovators, and it’s not too late to apply to present. http://bit.ly/OVZQBF. The New England Venture Summit provides an unparalleled opportunity for startups to meet, network and showcase their innovative investment opportunities to a leading group of investors. This exclusive venture summit will feature over 40 leading VCs on timely panel discussions; presentations by 50 cutting edge companies and high-level networking opportunities. It happens in Boston on December 5th. If you plan on attending, register now and save 50%: http://bit.ly/LjlttK
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For you edification this week:
Zuck’s Advice To Startups: Explore Before You Commit, Listen, Build Something Fundamental, Don’t Copy. If you think you have an idea, make sure it’s going to have a big impact. And if someone new enters your market with unique ideas, don’t derail your roadmap chasing them. Otherwise, Zuckerberg said you could end up like Myspace. Zuckerberg explained “they felt threatened by us and copied us, and you’re never going to win that way: http://tcrn.ch/TIy4dz
8 Signs You’ve Found Your Life’s Work. Wondering if the job you have now is “the one”–or just another stop on the way to something more fulfilling? Check out this list to know whether it’s time to settle in or keep moving: http://bit.ly/PAimW4
What accelerators do best, and where do they fall down? It’s accelerator application season, and just a few points to keep in mind, in case you may be applying to one. Or two: http://bit.ly/TAWV2D
New Accelerator Is On A Mission To Turn NYC Into A Hub For Healthtech Startups. The accelerator offers a nine-month program in which chosen startups receive up to $300K in funding, access to clinical and technical feedback from provider organization, integration into a statewide network of Electronic Health Record (EHR) data and mentorship from a group of healthcare entrepreneurs, investors and executives. Only one class a year, of course: http://tcrn.ch/XHw1L8
Speaking of health: Health, Yes! Startup Health Launches An AngelList For Healthtech Investors, Startups & Innovators. http://tcrn.ch/TzGm7y
Color’s Epic Collapse: Why Everybody Is Loving It: $41 mill buys a lot of expectation – and brings a lot of arrogance. http://rww.to/QuXFYK On the other hand, Troubled media sharing startup Color Labs said to be acquired by Apple. Even before founder Bill Nguyen’s was ousted from the company, he was looking for a way to sell it: http://tnw.co/RCPQPH
Everything Your VC Won’t Tell You. Many investors approach their commitments like a marriage, and the first few encounters are critical. Here are some things s/he might be thinking on the outset (but probably won’t flat-out say), and how you can prepare, says author and SOS member Eugenia Koo. Read on: http://bit.ly/XHtBfx
The VC Pitch Meeting. Mark MacLeod feels that here are lots of great posts on the interwebs about how to structure your investor pitch, but not a lot out there on how to run the actual pitch meeting. So, he decided to share tips for getting the most out of a VC pitch meeting. http://bit.ly/SPt2Bj
Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!
From SOS member AnnMarie McIlwain (careerfuel.net): CareerFuel just published a video that explains crowdfunding for equity. It is getting picked and I thought it might be of interest to your readers: http://careerfuel.net/2012/10/how-america-works-crowdfunding-for-equity/ (http://bit.ly/QBrXcj )
Kudos this week go to our friends at AppyCouple.com, yes, another ER Accelerator company that graduated last session and doing some very cool stuff. Wedding Startup Appy Couple Raises $1.2 Million Led By John Frankel: http://tcrn.ch/Rcek4R OK, so we happen to be big fans of John Frankel, too. And don’t forget that the application deadline is coming up for the next ER Accelerator session!
Congrats also go to our bud Jacob Brody – MESA Raises $10 Million Seed and Series A Venture Fund Focused on New York City. The fund will be allocated towards companies in consumer Internet, digital content, advertising, marketing, and commerce and focus on investments in New York, from the Mesa+’s Union Square headquarters. http://bit.ly/RaDMI4
We have nothing against TED conferences and some of our best friends organize TEDx’s. Although, some of the TED talks are a bit, well, let’s just say that our friends at the onion nailed it on this one. Chuckle of the week: http://bit.ly/WPPOIJ Our thanks to those of you who came to visit us at the NYXPo for Business last week – hope you enjoyed bonniefoods! That’s it from us this week and now, as always, help is on the way…